I sat there, exhausted, in my living room on the much to worn plaid couch with a rip in the seam that I always try to cover with a throw blanket and prayed that just for the rest of the night no one else would get sick. As I closed my eyes in that moment, with my ears on alert for the cry of mom, I sank into that couch and thought about how this was the perfect reminder for me on Mother’s Day weekend. Deep down, way inside, I realized I was secretly hoping for this idea, this ideal of the perfect day – the flowers and handmade cards and coffee brought in for me – and yet, the reality with the puking children was that it simply wasn’t going to happen.
Real life. Real motherhood.
I didn’t really want to look at it. I wanted to put a mask on the hard stuff – you know – like I cover the rip on my couch in my living room with the blanket throw. That’s the tear that I will try so hard to not show in pictures to others simply because I don’t want anyone to really see that part of my home. To me, it sticks out like red paint on a white wall – this obvious, ugly part of my home – that I don’t desire for the world to observe.
So I hid it.
Sweet mothers in the trenches do you know what I realized while I was sitting in that living room without the blanket over the rip and a child resting on my arms? I discovered I really didn’t care at that moment about a silly rip in my couch. At that moment I cared about, well, first no more throwing up, but second that I was there for my kids. I was the one wiping their forehead and telling them that I loved them. I was there, turning on the shower, washing towels, and helping them rest. I didn’t care about that little thing that I spend too much time thinking about and arranging blankets to cover.
It’s so easy to get distracted from the importants with the idea of measuring up. That rip on my couch? It was a definer – to me it spoke of not being able to replace the couch and then I allowed that to define worth. But, you know, the truth is that silly rip is not a definer of not making it – it’s a definer of motherhood. It shows a family lives here. It shows that sometimes, sometimes I said yes to throwing off the cushions and making a fort. It represents years of me sitting on the couch holding babies, reading books, praying, and resting. It’s about conversations and family and opening presents. It’s about listening, understanding, and working through things with those we love.
Sometimes the things that we hide are the very things that make us strong and who we are. Remember those dishes that we’ve all been talking about that I had in my sink in my Dear Mom Who Feels Like she is Failing post? Those dishes aren’t about failing or measuring up or something to hide. Those are a reflection on life. Living. Family.
Sure, we get behind and things happen. And those are the times, inevitably, when someone will knock on our door and pop on over. Hold your head high. You are doing something much more powerful, much more brave, much more amazing than keeping everything looking and feeling perfect.
You are being a mother.
A mother lives in a world of things that aren’t perfect. She encounters messes, sassing back, throwing up, late deadlines, challenging toddlers, spills in the back of the van while she’s driving, payments due, mornings where the lack of coffee seems to cloud the day, projects to complete, the never ending laundry to fold, and the fear, the wonder, the anxiety that somehow she’s not doing it all well. That maybe, maybe the mother down the road is doing it better than her. And maybe, maybe she’s failing just a teeny bit at the motherhood thing and then there’s this fear of motherhood and not being perfect. The perfect mom, she’s not there. Think about this – the perfect couch lasts for a week.
What happens with time? The couch gets better. More comfortable. You find the spot where you love to sit in the morning as the sun streams in and your coffee is in hand and you have those four minutes of silence before the day begins. It’s like life. Like motherhood. The more you mother, the more you plod forward in that never ending current of time, the more comfortable it can become. The things that we run from become the things we embrace.
By Mother’s Day evening my family felt great – good enough to go to church and to smile and laugh and be together. While we were there they showed a video of all the beautiful things that kids in our church loved about their mothers. Not one of my kids said anything about that couch. They said things like she gets me food and she’s a good teacher and she isn’t afraid to be goofy with us. Little things. Life things.
Those are the things that matter, dear mother. Those little things? Those are often the little things that you do that are truly so amazing. You may feel like you are just under water trying to tread harder – and that – that is such a deep part of motherhood and life. But that treading, that kicking to keep your head up, those late nights holding those ice cream pail puke buckets – those things matter. The things that matter are those giving of self moments. The times where you find the courage to keep going and sit up and don’t know where the energy comes from. The times where you muster up so much bravery and defend your child. The times where you slow down and simply sit on the couch and read the Curious George book over and over and over even though your to-do list is screaming at you.
Those things, those are life giving motherhood brave moments.
They are tucked in your everyday now. Right now, today, today you are blessing your family. You right now, the mother who straightened a collar, packed a lunch, laughed a bit, cried, pushed the toddler on the swing, and who sometimes wonders if she’s doing it right – I tell you – onward. You are more amazing than you know.
Do you know that the day I get rid of that couch I will shed some tears. Oh, I’ll be happy to no longer throw the blanket over the corner. But that couch? That couch has been in my home for my entire motherhood journey. That’s the couch that all of my babies came home on. That’s the couch where I write this blog in the depths of a cold winter. That’s the couch where I’ve slept, dreamed, and read story after story.
It’s really very beautiful.
What you are doing today as a mother is really beautiful.
Today embrace the bravery of a mother. You. Hold your head high. Love your children. Celebrate your story and the amazing beautiful ordinary moments in between.
Onward BRAVE mother.
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Thank you, thank you, thank you. I really needed that. Words cannot describe how encouraging I find you. Thank you for reminding me that nothing else matters, but the love for my babies. Tight hugs, annie
Blessings Annie. Thank you for encouraging me today with your words.
Thanks for keeping it real 🙂 Very nice post.
Thanks. This is one of the most, great blogs I read this time.
Thank you Becky – real is good. 🙂
And thanks, Jedidja – I appreciate your kind words.
Thanks for this. You always speak to my heart. I needed to hear this after a sleepless night spent on a sick baby’s bedroom floor followed by an early morning wake up call from my 4 year old.
I enjoy your blog….I always needed to be reminded that IT IS OKAY IF MY HOUSE IS NOT PERFECT…constant internal struggle but I know my 4 year old, 2 year old and 4 month old need me to be there. I recently heard someone say KEEP YOUR HOUSE CLEAN ENOUGH TO STAY HEALTHY AND DIRTY ENOUGH TO BE HAPPY. I though this was perfect:)
What I can’t seem to figure out is where the heck this idea of “the perfect mom” and the “perfect life” comes from. Sure there is Pinterest and comparison and Facebook…but we all know our parents weren’t perfect. Why do we think we should be? I am so guilty of this striving for perfection. I love how real your posts are. Thank you!
thank you so much. I needed to read this tonight.
I smiled as I read this post, as I too have tear in my couch that I cover with a blanket! Most of the time I don’t mind that our furniture is second hand, and that the money was spent on more important things but every now and again I long for a nice new one. But more precious was the feeling of lovely family time we enjoyed on Saturday night (early Mother’s day as hubby had to leave for a work trip the next day). Being there is the most important thing we can do for our children, and I say this as mum to 5 grown up children. Life isn’t what we are aiming for, it’s what we are doing right now. Be encouraged, among the mess of life is love.
Praying so that everyone’s better quickly!
Psalms 28:6-7 Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
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Rachel, I have to say thank you for every single post you write. Every single one i read encourages me and thousands others more than you can ever know.
I am guilty of always letting those trivial things get in the way of spending real time with my children, one of the hardest things for me to do is to stop racing around cleaning and just sit and be.
thank you so much for sharing your life with us. just seeing those dirty dishes encourages me that im not the only one with a full sink. 🙂
I miss spending quality time with my Children. Wish I could give them more time.